More and more salons are using Ultra Violet (UV) lamps to achieve a polished and even finish for nail manicures. However, to get that look, you have to keep your nails under these lamps until the gel manicure is set and dry. Increasingly, people have become anxious about gel manicures as studies have shown that long-term use of the UV lamps can cause damage to the skin around the nails, and even result in skin cancer. Dr Rinky Kapoor, cosmetic dermatologist and dermato-surgeon tells you more.
What you should be aware of
Research has shown that it takes only 12 visits to the salon for the damage done by the UV rays to the skin to start showing. On an average this means just six months of manicures can do real damage. There is a strict need for regulations on which UV lamps should be used in the salons. The amount of skin damage will depend on the duration of exposure and the strength of light emitted from the lamp. Every salon uses a different type of lamp and on an average it takes about eight minutes for total manicure application. The positioning of the UV lamps is also a major contributing factor to the damage done to the skin.

To prevent it…
Opt for an air dryer if you are using medications like antibiotics, oral contraceptives and estrogens. They make you more sensitive to UV rays.
Avoid UV lamps if you are using any supplements.
Remove all kinds of cosmetics, fragrances and skin care products (except sunscreen) before using these lamps as ingredients in these products can make you sensitive to UV rays.
Cut of the ends of a UV protection glove and wear them before putting your hands under the lamps. This way only the nails will be exposed.
Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF at least 15 and above. Apply the sunscreen when your manicurist is done filing the nails. Use a water resistant sunscreen.
Make sure that the curing sessions are less than eight minutes long. Most salons prefer to over cure rather than under cure, therefore you will have to ensure that your hands are not under the lamps longer than necessary.
Inspect your hands before the application of nail polish for any damage below the nails. If you see any damage then opt for the air dryer and avoid the UV lamps.
Mix your manicure sessions by getting regular polish sometimes. If you feel only gel polish works for you then opt for air dryers half of the time.
Visit a dermatologist if you notice any damage around the nail and even if a slight spot develops on the skin.

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